Category Archives: Death of a Child

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What Suicidal Depression Feels Like – Therese Borchard

Yesterday, in my own community here in Lake Mary, Florida, not even a mile from me, a 14 year-old boy in our middle school went into a bathroom stall and shot himself to death. With the recent death of Robin Williams and the suicide deaths of so many whose parents and siblings I have worked with over the years, there is a great need to truly understand how depression wreaks havoc on an individual’s ability to reason.

Nothing comforts me more than when another writer has the guts to truly put it all out there. I have done this many times on my blog, telling the good, bad and ugly of the aftermath of death and, while it’s difficult to read and comprehend that humans feel and live through such crisis, it is very, very real and very honest and should never be taken lightly, either by family, friends and especially business colleagues, who are usually so busy they dismiss many emotions.

I know how difficult it is for those who love you to grieve a death by suicide. There are countless questions, self-blame, years of trying to recover, if it’s even possible, and the guilt, shame and anger. If you are even considering this and find yourself in a deep depression either because you yourself are now grieving the death of a loved one, or you are dealing with what seems like insurmountable challenges, please read Therese’s work below.

If you need to speak with someone, please go to “Crisis Connections.” Click on there for help in your area. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. You can remain anonymous. Let someone listen. You deserve to be heard. Continue reading What Suicidal Depression Feels Like – Therese Borchard

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30 Years Ago Today…

101When I look back on my life, there are a few days that stand out with such significance that I can’t help but acknowledge them, regardless of the pain.

And while there are happy days I can recall, like when I completed both my degrees, when I was given wonderful awards for my work, when my books were published, there are several difficult days that I’ve lived that caused me and those I’ve loved great trauma.

One was the death of my beloved grandmother, who lived, almost exclusively, a healthy life till her death at 93. She was my anchor when life handed me difficult times while growing up.

Another was my little dog, Daisy, who brought me so much joy every day for almost 13 years. My constant companion, she was always there to snuggle with when I needed her most.

But there was one particular day that, when I look back on my life, shaped and changed who I was and, even though I had helped so many in my life before who had struggled with bereavement, it was her death that catapulted me into leading support groups, writing books, speaking, and starting a national foundation for grieving children.

107She is Angela.

A 10 year old who came into my life when I met her father. Her older brother was then 13 and younger just 9.

I remember her bubbly personality, her courage to ask me those most pressing questions you’d never think would come out of the mouth of such a young lady. But I answered every one and she went away satisfied.

Many who knew her longer than I described her as a firecracker. And for the short time I knew her, they were right.

I specifically remember how much she loved shopping together. How she couldn’t choose between the pink or blue cotton candy.

Or the last holiday she and her younger brother spent with us. It was Easter, 1984 and I made a special dinner for us.

At one point after dinner we took a long walk together. I wanted to purchase film that day to take a few pictures but we didn’t pick it up. And that moment was lost to me forever.

Angela at 11; her last school picture.Because just a few short months later on this day in 1984, that bright, bubbly young girl was murdered on Long Island.

And what followed were 18 years of an unsolved murder.

It took until 2002 to have enough evidence to charge the initial suspect and another two years to go to trial.

We endured a six-week emotional rollercoaster from the time they began picking a jury for her 20 year old murder, to the time he was convicted.

I often wonder what life would have been like if she were still here with us. Would she have been in my bridal party when her father and I married?

Would she have studied for a college degree? And what career might she have chosen?

Would she have married and had children? How many would she have had and what would they have looked like?

But today, I guess there is a part of me that, as my stepson texted me today, which says “I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”

And he is so right.

Rest in Peace, Angela. You were with us for far too short a time, but the impact you had on our lives, both in life and death, will remain forever.

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When Mother’s Day Stings

When Mother’s Day swings around I usually have mixed emotions.

I’m grateful that my own mother is still with me, along with the other ‘mothers’ I have the privilege to still enjoy…my Aunt, my Godmother, and my friend Jeanne, all who really ‘get’ me since I’m anything but conventional in my thinking.

But my heart is with women, today, who are reminded that ‘motherhood’ hasn’t worked out quite as they’d expect. And I’ve met many who have had these experiences; some have had a few.

Like the lady who has lost a child, something she never anticipated. Perhaps her only child or all her children have died. The one who never knew her mother because her mother died before she was old enough to meet and enjoy her.

Or the woman who never had the honor to even becoming pregnant for a whole host of reasons. And the one who is still able to bear children but can’t keep a pregnancy.

We look at loss in many different ways; we see things others don’t see on these types of occasions. We don’t bring it up in conversation, instead we simply let it remain buried deep inside where a lot of that pain still sits.

My mother has graciously gotten to the point where she’ll wish me a Happy Mother’s Day with the caveat, ‘because you are a mother to many’ which is her way of soothing that wound and I’m at a place where I might well up with a tear or two but at least it’s not the piercing pain that I once had years ago.

Sometimes it’s not an actual loss of a mother, for some, that is difficult to grieve. It can also be what hasn’t occurred that can sting on a day like today.

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Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT: One Year Later

The first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT holds difficult emotions for the families, friends and school staff, as well as its community. Dealing with the pain of loss for the first full year is never easy.

When we approach an anniversary, we relive all the little moments before the tragedy and try to trick ourselves into thinking that person is still with us. On the days leading up to the anniversary, we, at least, get to think “the week before we were baking Christmas cookies” or “the day before we were decorating the tree.”

But once the actual first anniversary occurs, we don’t get to have that luxury any longer and we can’t fool ourselves. We can no longer say, at this time last year we were doing this or that. And that reality bring sorrow.

The first anniversary is never an easy day to live through but sometimes the anticipation is much more stressful than the actual happenings of the day itself.

I’ve known so many families (and I’ve had this experience, too) tell me they made the experiences of the day so much greater in their head than they turned out to be.

They thought they’d be devastated, but somehow it turned out to be a lot lighter than they thought it would be. It became a day of remembering the person, than how they died.

It became a day of thinking of all the fun times they spent together and being grateful for those times instead of allowing themselves to succumb to the events of that day.

So my thoughts are with the families of this small Connecticut town today and do hope that they can look for the happiness they held in the relationship they shared with their loved one and not the way they died.

Yes, it can be hard, but moving toward gratitude for those happy years spent together, will always outweigh a moment in time that can never be changed.

To read my blogs from last year when this tragedy occurred, go here. As a stepmother of an 11 year old who was murdered, I wrote them from the perspective of a grieving mother of a murdered victim.

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Bittersweet Mother’s Day

When Mother’s Day swings around I usually have mixed emotions.

I’m grateful that my own mother is still with me, along with the other ‘mothers’ I have the privilege to still enjoy…my Aunt, my Godmother, and my friend Jeanne, all who really ‘get’ me since I’m anything but conventional in my thinking.

But my heart is with women, today, who are reminded that ‘motherhood’ hasn’t worked out quite as they’d expect. And I’ve met many who have had these experiences; some have had a few.

Like the lady who has lost a child, or one whose only child or all her children have died. The one who never knew her mother because her mother died before she was old enough to meet and enjoy her.

Or the woman who never had the honor to even becoming pregnant for a whole host of reasons. And the one who is still able to bear children but can’t keep a pregnancy or get pregnant to begin with.

We look at loss in many different ways; we see things others don’t see on these types of occasions. We don’t bring it up in conversation, instead we simply let it remain buried deep inside where a lot of that pain still sits.

My mother has graciously gotten to the point where she’ll wish me a Happy Mother’s Day with the caveat, ‘because you are a mother to many’ which is her way of soothing that wound and I’m at a place where I might well up with a tear or two but at least it’s not the piercing pain that I once had years ago.

Sometimes it’s not an actual loss of a mother, for some, that is difficult to grieve. It can also be what hasn’t occurred that can sting on a day like today.